Finally got around to updating the splash image on the first page, it's now a Flash slide show type of thing with a semi-transparent overlay of the A* logo. I did it in Flash rather than just as an animated .gif because the slow fade in-out effect I wanted would have made for a pretty large .gif file.
Working with animated Flash effects feels so unintuitive; Flash Pro CS4's interface is really awful in a lot of ways. For instance, I couldn't change the opacity of the overlay in FPCS4, because it's a bitmap--had to do that in Photoshop and keep re-importing it into FPCS4, and then totally re-adding it because, as a .psd, FPCS4 can't update the bitmap resource on the fly.
And to change the opacity of a fade effect I put over the slides in the background, I couldn't just click on the bar in the timeline representing that object in order to bring up its properties to edit--nooo! You've got to hide every layer above it, click a frame in the timeline in which it appears, click the Select tool, click the visual representation of the object in the preview window, click on the miniscule "Alpha" number in its properties window, change the number in the pop-up window that appears, press Enter, click the "Alpha" number in the properties window to pop-up the window again, click the color square for the color black in that window because it's probably randomly assigned another color during your last edit of the alpha number, deselect the object so you can actually see it without it being coated with the awful selection pattern, and unhide every layer above the object. And that's just for a single opacity tweak!
Sheez. I'm glad the only actual animation work I have to do in FPCS4 for A* episodes is adding/removing frames here and there to tweak the timing around the imported sound files and animated bitmaps. That's another crazy thing about FPCS4's interface, though: there doesn't seem to be a way to select a frame of time for some lines in the timeline and then insert an arbitrary number of frames in one go; instead, you just have to press F5 to add one frame at a time. So gosh help you if you decide, like I did for this animated splash image, that you want to add ten seconds of time to multiple segments of your animation. That was a lot of F5ing! I feel like I'm missing something obvious, but darned if I can find any sort of numeric entry box for doing it in one swell foop.
Ranting about software interfaces is fun. :D
Other small tweaks I did to the site in the past few days were adding a painstakingly Photoshopped (ah my old friend the Threshold tool) picture of myself to the "about" page, and fighting IE's silly table-width handling to try to get long news post titles and dates to co-exist peacefully without wrapping funny on the "news" and "news archive" pages. Oh yeah, I also added a "url" link to news posts on those pages some time during this past week, so if you ever want to post a direct link to a specific news article, you can now find the article's unique URL.